The 3 Core Link Building Strategies – Chalk Talk Thursday #6
[00:01] Hello. This is Shaheen over at WebUpon. This is episode number six of Chalk Talk Thursday. Today I wanted to cover the three core principles of link building. This applies to any business. I know there are hundreds of lists out there that cover all the various tactics, but I think at a macro level, every marketer and business owner should have a sense of what these three tactics are, SEO, content marketing, and PR, so that they think about how they can properly apply them to their business. That’s probably a better position to be in, rather than just being focused on one off SEO tactics or hoping that the local paper features you. This is really a holistic system and a good way to think about how you can advance your business and promote it more broadly amongst the public, rather than just thinking about one specific advertising strategy.
[00:48] I think for SEOs, generally, we tend to get caught up in any set of tactics. You can maybe scale a business out by doing some PPC and then you start thinking about SEO. Then you do content marketing. That’s a pretty common way that people scale up their businesses. There are other people that are basically thinking, “Okay, it’s all about product development. Then it’s all about just being the best.” I think this is probably more symptomatic of SEOs, where we get stuck thinking about tactics. We never really think about the broader business that we’re impacting, especially if you’re brought in where you have someone that sells a lot of third party products. You have to really differentiate the business. That’s why we love content marketing so much, because we can really use it to differentiate the brand and help it become more and more legitimate. I think that, strategically, you sort of forget that there’s this whole other side of the coin, which is really how do we get our name out there? How do we make ourselves important in a way that people will love?
[01:46] I’m just gonna break down what these three strategies are and how people are using them now. Then I’m gonna talk about some of the brands that are sort of crossing over as far as these strategies go and some of the benefits of that, and just sort of dissect how you can do so in your same business. As far as SEO link building strategies go, these are probably some of the most common, so guest posting, any sort of dead link link building where you sort of find … or link reclamation where you go and find some references and you basically message these people and ask them to please feature you. This can be a very, very useful tactic in some industries. In others, it’s very, very tired. There’s also just local back link building. All these kinds of tactics are basically very focused on the SEO side of the equation.
[02:29] It’s people that are thinking, “How can I game the system?” The only problem and downside with that is that you’re sort of stuck in this bubble where you’re always thinking about the SEO, the rankings. You’re never really thinking about the product itself. On the flip side of that, you get a PR centered strategy. If you think about companies like Apple or Tesla, Tesla in particular doesn’t really spend any money on advertising. They don’t really think about it. They completely depend for their PR and their external links, people just to write about them. They’re completely, completely product focused. They’re not really thinking about advertising at all. They sort of just let things handle themselves.
[03:06] Now, this is a really, really appealing strategy if you’re in a very, very interesting industry. If you’re just doing some HVAC, you’re just a lawyer, if you’re a real estate agent in kind of a drab area where you’re just selling homes, it’s not mansions on Bel Air, you really, really can’t do a lot and just sort of make your product super sexy. The PR centered strategy then becomes a challenge because you can’t go out and get people interested because, for most people, it’s just not interesting. That’s where content really comes into the fold. Content is really helpful because one, it allows us to connect with our customers more. Two, it allows us to create a situation where we can really, really start to differentiate our brand. SEOs have sort of been on this crossover area for a while. We talk a lot about guides and these sort of in depth product explanations, which help customers, inform them, hopefully build a little bit of brand loyalty so that they actually shop from you, and then let you grow the brand over time.
[04:04] On the PR side of things, I like to think about someone like Seth Godin. They are someone who stands alone, just purely based off of their brand. If you type Seth into Google, you’ll actually see him in the top three right now at this very second. They also are someone that writes content almost every day. Now the thing that’s interesting about their content strategy is any SEO would tell you it’s a little bit crazy, because sometimes he just writes 30 words, 100 words. They’re not very long articles. They’re so impactful and meaningful that they do get referenced and obviously his brand sort of feeds into it, but it’s this hybrid PR/content marketing strategy, which is a lot different some sort of the REIs and the Wirecutters of the world, who grow heavily by creating these strategies that are very, very focused on a in depth product guide that your customers are gonna love. In the case of REI, it’s hard to produce this kind of content unless you really are an expert in the industry that you’re talking about.
[05:03] Now, I think the more interesting thing is just content generally. There are some brands that don’t think about SEO at all, don’t think about content marketing at all, per se, but they get almost all of their traffic through these mediums. These businesses are basically always trying to be ahead of the curve. They’re creating hyper interesting content. When you think about an organization like Pro Publica, they’re spending tons of money on research. They’re sending journalists out in the field. They’re producing really, really high quality content, typically doing a lot of data manipulation, basically the same thing that Five Thirty Eight’s doing, where you come back and it’s so compelling that you will keep your audience in the brand.
[05:39] That said, these are the three core strategies: SEO, PR, and content. I think that the sort of case study that I would say, more than anyone else that’s basically moving into the center of the circle, where they’re doing all three is Amazon. Traditionally, Amazon hasn’t really focused heavily on content. They scaled the business out by doing a lot of PPC advertising. They very, very heavily focused on quality of the product. Now they’re doing more PR. Blue Origin gets written about all the time. Bezos gets written about all the time. Their labor practices get written up about, in positive and negative manners, but any press is good press. When it comes to back links, that’s especially true. They’re able to create this situation where they’re hyper efficient with all of their advertising budgeting. They’re hyper efficient with their product, service, delivery, all these things that consumers care about when it really comes to convenience.
[06:30] Now they’re actually starting to create this strategy of content marketing around some of their core product areas. You may notice them making more and more videos. It’s something that Zappos has done very, very aggressively as a subsidiary of Amazon, but the actual Amazon brand itself is starting to do this. They’re starting to have some copy on their category pages. They’re starting to actually feature other sources of news media and get them integrated into the fold. I’m sure that Washington Post will start to inform some of the content that’s gonna go into the Amazon beast.
[07:01] I think that every business should really start to think about how they can leverage all three sides of this triangle. It’s super, super easy to … sorry, all three sides of this Venn Diagram. It’s super, super easy to just play in the SEO world all day, do guest posts. It’s super, super easy to write great content for a customer and get PR mentions over time and just let that sort of ride out and help grow the brand, especially when you know what you’re doing on the SEO side. I think it becomes pretty hard for a lot of brands in a lot of more practical industries where you’re not just sort of moon shooting for some crazy product that no one’s ever seen to actually get some interest in the product.
[07:42] In those kinds of areas, what you really have to do is create some hyper compelling piece of content that’s maybe a layer above where your sales funnel really is. If most of your customers are sort of here, and this is where you make all your money, you might have to go up a whole nother layer to some other, bigger market, some other, bigger funnel that just is way out of what you’re selling now. This actually gives you a lot of access to customers that wouldn’t normally care otherwise. That’s, in a nutshell, how I think about link building strategies. There’s really only three when it comes down to it. You’re really only playing in the SEO world, in the content marketing world, and in the PR world.
[08:21] There are ways that you can do earned and owned media placements in both, but at the end of the day, I think every business owner and marketer needs to think about how we can sort of cross over and get to the center, make our products as interesting as they possibly can be, or find someone who’s gonna be more interested in our products, or just some weird aspect of it. Even if we make some weird nut and bolt for a sewer system and no one cares about it, we can probably make a really, really amazing graphic about what the sewer system looks like, or if the power grid went down, how quickly it would collapse, or how resilient it is, so how well it would last, or if it’s negative 50 right now, you could do a little bit of news jacking and say, “What happens when it’s this cold in regions where it’s typically not this frigid?” These are the three strategies. Everyone should just focus on trying to diversify as far as I’m concerned. I hope that was helpful.